The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called for direct involvement of religious and traditional leaders in tackling the rising cases of rapes and other forms of violence against women in the country.
The President, CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, made the call in Abuja during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria, organised by CAN and the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).
Ayokunle stressed that political leaders, religious leaders and all stakeholders should be more involved in addressing the needs of women and child survivors, including interventions to disrupt the gender-based violence cycle.
He expressed displeasure that gender-based violence had assumed a disturbing dimension in the country.
The cleric thus said there was the need to scale up prevention efforts to address unequal gender power relations as a root cause of gender-based violence.
He, however, noted that there was also an alarming rate of cases of gender-based violence going on in the religious circles, involving religious leaders as perpetrators.
According to him, increased stress, lack of basic needs and disagreements on how household resources, such as food, are managed can increase domestic violence.
“Higher levels of food insecurity and hunger can lead women or men to exchange food for sex.
“The evil of gender-based violence is also being perpetrated against the male, especially the boy child.
“Gender-based violence hinders progress toward comprehensive security for all.
“It does not only affect the personal safety and security of its victims, but can also prevent them from being active members of society or from using their skills and knowledge to their full potential,” he said.
Ayokunle urged governments, faith leaders and civil society organisations to collaborate in designating safe spaces, both physical and online, for women where they could report abuse without alerting perpetrators, including in pharmacies or via digital platforms.